Excerpt: Installation OFF FENCE at the Biennale Architettura, designed by SKULL studio and MOLO architekti, is formed by four “fences” made of larch wood profiles, which progressively incline from the vertical axis. The “fences” are mutually interconnected with sloping platforms, which enable movement along the play element.
[Text as submitted by architect] For the first time are participants Matěj Hájek and Tereza Kučerová invited to the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia curated by Hashim Sarkis. They are the sole representatives of the Czech Republic at this prestigious exhibition of contemporary architecture, on this year’s theme of How will we live together? In the section How will we play together?, in the freely accessible Forte Marghera, they present the installation OFF FENCE.
A fence is a symbol of separation. Throughout all historical developments, society has been divided by various forms of walls, either physically, geographically, culturally or socially. If we ask ourselves the question How will we live together?, it is necessary first of all to realise what divides us. What stands between us and the state we are striving to achieve?
The installation OFF FENCE is placed in a radical location, cutting across the existing gravel path, thereby manifesting the phenomenon of separation. “We choose a confrontational tone. We cut across the path. We transform an obstacle into an impulse. An impulse for change,” states the author, the sculptor Matěj Hájek.
An obstacle is placed in the path for visitors to the Architecture Biennale – a wooden fence. If visitors wish to continue on their way, they are forced to address the situation. They have the option of giving up and turning back, or walking round the obstacle, or going through the installation. Within the context we have formulated, this physical act takes on a symbolic meaning: it enables visitors to enter the obstacle, and thereby to enter the problem. “Through the medium of play we take a bold step. We drive the dynamo of change through our own initiative. The game is an initiation of change. By entering the physical body of the obstacle, visitors overcome themselves,” describes Hájek.
Tereza Kučerová adds: “In cities there aren’t enough opportunities for the free movement of children. Playgrounds are often designed as the only places for playing. For us, the fence demarcating children’s playgrounds is a symbol of this deficiency. It separates children from the remainder of the urban environment. In cities designed with the needs of children taken into account, such fences aren’t necessary.”
“The spatial composition of the play element is based on the application of knowledge from the field of neuroscience. Motion along the inclined surfaces of platforms brings about stimulation of the physical apparatus, and thereby also an increase of the educational potential of the game,” adds the author, who focuses on the broader relationships of play elements in his research within his dissertation thesis at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague.
Construction methods and main materials used in a project
The lateral walls of the construction are created from larch wood profiles (60 x 120 cm), which are mutually interconnected, and also connected to the supporting construction made of galvanised steel, with the aid of threaded rods, forming the ensemble of the installation. Along the entire length of the wooden “fences” are horizontal HEA profiles, which are located beneath the terrain, together forming a single spatial unit. The sloping platforms which fill the fields between the fences are formed with the aid of larch wood prisms, and sheathed in plywood with a coloured, anti-slip coating. The access ladders are made of galvanised steel.
The installation is formed by four “fences” made of larch wood profiles, which progressively incline from the vertical axis. Access to the installation is possible along the sloping platforms, and from the sides on steel ladders.